The 100 Best Children’s Books of the 20th Century
Here, listed by category, title, author and illustrator is our list of the century’s best children’s books. The list, put together over several months, represents the views of parents, children’s literature experts and our readers. While not every classic is listed – and we may have left out a favorite of yours – these are the books that strike a special chord and stay with us through adulthood. For books that have a separate illustrator, we’ve listed the illustrator’s name after the author, separated by a slash.

Books for Babies
Picture Books
Chapter Books


MILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Cathedral, by David Macaulay

MILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Great Yellowstone Fire, by Carole G. Vogel and Kathryn A. Goldner

MILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris/Michael Emberley

MILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein

Lincoln: A Photobiography, by Russell Freedman

Magic School Bus (series), by Joanna Cole/Bruce Degen

The New Kid on the Block, by Jack Prelutsky

Tales of Uncle Remus, retold by Julius Lester/Jerry Pinkney

Talking Like the Rain (anthology), by Dorothy and X.J. Kennedy

What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? by Jean Fritz

The Wright Brothers, by Russell Freedman

You Be Good and I’ll Be Night, by Eve Merriam

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Books for Babies

Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd

Have You Seen My Duckling?, by Nancy Tafuri

Pippo (series), by Helen Oxenbury

Spot (series), by Eric Hill

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Ten, Nine, Eight, by Molly Bang

26 Letters and 99 Cents, by Tana Hoban

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Picture Books

Alfie (series), by Shirley Hughes

Arthur (series), by Marc Brown

Babar (series), by Jean De Brunhoff

Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban/Lillian Hoban

A Chair for My Mother, by Vera Williams

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr./Lois Ehlert

tyle: normal">Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes

tyle: normal">The Crack-of-Dawn Walkers, by Amy Hest/Amy Schwartz

tyle: normal">Doctor DeSoto, by William Steig

tyle: normal">Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant

tyle: normal">Frog and Toad (series), by Arnold Lobel

tyle: normal">Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

tyle: normal">Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, by Eric Kimmel/Trina Schart Hyman

tyle: normal">A Hole is to Dig, by Ruth Krauss/Maurice Sendak

tyle: normal">Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss

tyle: normal">If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff/Felicia Bond

tyle: normal">Jumanji, by Chris Van Allsburg

tyle: normal">Lon Po Po, by Ed Young

tyle: normal">Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans

Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey

Martha Speaks, by Susan Meddaugh

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton

Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag

Miss Nelson is Missing!, by Harry Allard/James Marshall

Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney

The Mitten, by Jan Brett

Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, by John Burningham

The Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall

Peter Rabbit (the Tales of), by Beatrix Potter

The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf/Robert Lawson

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Story of Holly and Ivy, by Rumer Godden

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

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Chapter Books

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Afternoon of the Elves, by Janet Taylor Lisle

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Anastasia Krupnik, by Lois Lowry

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Borrowers (series), by Mary Norton

SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier

mal>The Devil’s Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen

mal>Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers

mal>The Friendship, by Mildred Taylor

mal>The Giver, by Lois Lowry

mal>The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson

mal>Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh

mal>Hatchet, by Gary Paulson

mal>Henry and Mudge (series), by Cynthia Rylant/Sucie Stevenson

mal>Homer Price (series), by Robert McCloskey

mal>The Indian in the Cupboard (series), by Lynne Reid Banks

mal>Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell

mal>James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl

Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Narnia series), by C.S. Lewis

Little House (series), by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

M.C. Higgins the Great, by Virginia Hamilton

Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli

Memory, by Margaret Mahy

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry

One-Eyed Cat, by Paula Fox

The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton

Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

The Pigman, by Paul Zindel

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Ramona (series), by Beverly Cleary

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Redwall (series), by Brian Jacques

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Stone Fox, by John Reynolds Gardiner

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Story of Dr. Doolittle, by Hugh Lofting

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Frank L. Baum

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

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See also: Read-Aloud Tips